The No ‘Poo hair diet

I stopped using shampoo in July. Fifteen weeks of latherless, bland, boring showers, lacking any type of Herbal Essence-induced pleasure. I opted instead for a baking soda and apple cider vinegar regimen that is so tedious and lacklustre that I almost gave in and picked up my expensive bottle of moisture therapy shampoo at least once every second shower. Somehow I persisted, and I was rewarded.

The “no ‘poo diet” has been an internet sensation for a few years. I first came across it last year while browsing Pinterest boards: multiple blog posts from women and men alike, gushing about how baking soda and apple cider vinegar changed their lives.

It turns out shampoo is a detergent. “Detergent, as in laundry?” I thought to myself. Yup. Detergent, as in, “A cleansing substance that acts similarly to soap but is made from chemical compounds,” according to the Oxford Dictionary. I had to find out what this means for your hair, so I asked hairstylist Jenny Henry. “Basically, it means that shampoo has chemicals that essentially strip your hair and scalp of all the natural oils that it produces in order to keep it shiny and healthy,” Henry said.

As perfectly reasonable beings, to fix the squeaky clean from shampoo, we use conditioner. As it turns out, according to Megan from Sally’s Beauty Supply, conditioner is actually just a substance that “coats our hair in a film to make it feel and look shiny and silky.”

Somebody, somewhere, decided to risk being gross in order to find a solution to the shampoo-conditioner regime for the rest of us. Step one: throw out your shampoo. Step two: go out and buy apple cider vinegar and baking soda.

The first month and a half is the worst. You can only wash your hair three times a week with a tablespoon of baking soda mixed with a quarter cup of water. The apple cider vinegar acts as the conditioner and you can use as much of that in your hair as you want.

Your hair will be greasy to the point of looking like you just went for a walk in a tropical rainforest. If your hair is dark, like mine, it will look worse. There are ways to move this process along; massage your scalp with just water for five minutes every time you shower, and brush your hair with a paddle brush as often as possible in order to distribute the oils (grease) away from the scalp to the ends of your hair.

You will need hats, headbands and bandanas — anything to cover the roots of your hair. You will avoid spooning with your significant other. Your grandmother will be horrified. Small children will ask why your hair is wet. This will make you want to give up. It gets better.

A miracle begins to happen around month three. It may be sooner for some, later for others. You notice that your hair is lighter. You only wash it twice a week with baking soda — the rest you just rinse and massage with water. The few times you don’t blow dry, you notice it dried into perfect waves by itself. No styling, treating, backcombing or hiding.

You will feel free. You are no longer spending an insane amount of money on hair products, yet you look like you spend every paycheque at the hair salon. You take five minutes in the morning instead of the typical 25-minute routine. You will get compliments, people will ask what products you use. You can lie if you want, or try to get them on the bandwagon.

Most importantly, thanks to the no ‘poo diet, you can say with complete confidence “I woke up like this,” and mean it.

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